What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

to be paid for nonproduction

I'm not sure I can tell this story quickly, but I'll try. Bear with me, because there's some type of moral here.

I received a job for copyediting from one of my regular clients. Typically very easy to work with and the books are usually interesting -- a nice combination. What's different about them is that they pay me on a project basis. I don't take the pages they send me, multiply it by a piece rate, and send them a bill. They tell me up front what the fee will be. I think it's based on some page rate on their end, perhaps on a word count basis or something, but they usually do some of their own formatting and coding first, so it rarely comes to me with the same page count they mention.

So the most recent project comes in, and to me the rate seems too high for what they are asking me to do -- like by a difference of about 100 pages, in my favor. Because I am generally an honest guy who doesn't want to take advantage of regular clients, and what might be a mistake on their part, I ask the managing editor if the project fee is correct, and did he send me the correct files? In order to show him what he sent me, I email him back the files I received, with the comment, "attached are the files I received."

So I get an email from the client yesterday asking where the invoice is. I say I've not yet completed the job. The client writes today, a little indignantly, saying that he wishes I had made it clearer in my original email asking about the rate that the files attached weren't the edited files, because he's just spent most of the day cleaning up the files I returned to him for the author to review.

I wrote him, "Sorry about that. I thought 'attached are the files I received' would have taken care of it. I also always return the files with a different file name, such as adding 'edited' or 'bl' to the end of the document name. But I apologize for the inconvenience and the time wasted on your part."

And the apology was sincere. I do feel bad that he wasted his time.

But here's my question: don't you think he would have noticed that there were no editorial changes in the book -- that I didn't change a single character? But even as I'm writing this, I see another side. This client is unique in that they ask for an electronic edit, but without the changes being tracked. I always presumed that they ran a "compare documents" when they received the files back from me to see what I've done, but I guess not.

Which leads me to a number of possible conclusions: (1) they really trust their editors; (2) they really leave the ultimate responsibility to the authors, or some combination of the two.

Well, whatever. I didn't end up making the point I expected to make.

Going to Atlanta tomorrow/later today to see Return to Forever, one of my favorites of all time, whom I last saw 32 years ago. At that time I was 16 years old, and if you had told me at that time that the next time I saw them as a group (I've since seen three of the four individually) I would be in the company of my wife, college-bound son, and 15-year-old son, I would have looked at you like you had two heads. The last thing I could have imagined myself at age 16 was married with children. Things do change.


moi said...

No "compare documents"? Yeah. Wow. Just when I thought I've heard it all . . .

. . . and then you write that you're going to Atlanta to see Return to Forever. Dang, thanks for sending me back on that particular trip.

czar said...

My fifteen-year-old left with the impression that Stanley Clarke is the best musician he has seen on any instrument anywhere. When playing the bass, whether electric or acoustic, he makes it look like Shaquille O'Neal fondling a ping-pong ball.